Arise and Judge!
(6) Arise, Yahweh, in your anger! Rise up because of the fury of my enemies! Rouse yourself, O God! Command justice! (7) Let the congregation of the people surround you! Rule over them from on high! (8) Yahweh judges the peoples. Judge me, Yahweh, according to the justice and the integrity within me. (9) Bring to an end the evil of the wicked, but establish the righteous, O righteous God, who tests the hearts and minds.
Each verse in this segment contains one or more prayer requests in which David pleads with Yahweh to respond to the wickedness of his enemies. Each request recognizes the greatness of God who graciously condescends to involve himself personally in our sin-plagued life situations.
David first uses three synonyms, “arise...rise up...rouse yourself” (vs. 6). Here he pictures God as a great giant who climbs to his feet to deal with the Lilliputian sinfulness of a rebellious creation. Then he envisions God as the ruler on high, creator and sustainer of the heavens and the earth, around whom the faithful rally (vs. 7). Next he portrays Yahweh as the great judge of all humanity whom David personally petitions to bring about justice in the situation that he was facing (vs. 8).
Finally, the psalmist looks to the future and prays for the time when all evil will be judged and righteousness will prevail (vs. 9). This is another way of asking, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as in heaven” (Mt. 6:10 KJV). The repeated words in these verses are all terms used in law courts: “justice” (vs. 6 & 8), “judge” (vs. 8), and “righteous” (vs. 8 & 9). In essence, David is appealing for God not to delay any longer in bringing his justice to bear.
How David prays to a righteous God regarding sin:
- Arise and bring about justice. (6)
- Rule over your faithful followers. (7)
- Judge me according to my integrity. (8)
- Judge the wicked, but establish the righteous. (9)
Those who serve Yahweh in the midst of injustice eagerly desire that his righteousness prevail on the earth.
The Bible contains a number of passages that portray God as the righteous judge who will someday right all wrongs. Abraham, while interceding with God to spare his nephew, Lot in Sodom, asked the rhetorical question, “Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25) The answer implied by the question is, “Of course he will.” Hannah while praising God for promising her a son made a similar declaration: “Yahweh will judge the ends of the earth” (1 Sam. 2:10). Several passages in the psalms contain variations on the same theme. Psalm 98 gives us another example: “...for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity” (Ps. 98:9).
The Apostle John in the Revelation describes a scene of unparalleled solemnity: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it...and I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Rev. 20:11,12). After his Second Coming, Jesus Christ will judge all unbelievers of every generation and bring an end to all wickedness. Whenever we deal with injustice, whenever we find ourselves mistreated, we can take comfort in knowing that God will someday bring justice to bear by punishing every sin that has ever been committed.
What John writes about the Book of Life in this same passage (Rev. 20:12) reminds us that the Great White Throne Judgment was never intended for those who have trusted in Christ as Savior. Those whose names have been recorded in the Book of Life will never have to face the Judge of all the earth. Jesus bore God’s wrath for our sins when he suffered on the cross. To us belongs the imputed righteousness of Christ so that we never have to undergo the judgment that the whole world will someday experience.